Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA/Argentina/Spain/Italy, 2009. American Zoetrope, Zoetrope Argentina, Tornasol Films, BIM Distribuzione, Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales, Genercia de Fomento, Television Espanola, Canal+ Espana, Instituto de la Cinematografia ye de las Artes Audiovisuales, Instituto de Credito Oficial. Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola, based on Fausta by Mauricio Kartun. Cinematography by Mihai Malaimaire Jr.. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola, Valerio De Paolis. Music by Osvaldo Golijov. Production Design by Sebastian Orgambide. Costume Design by Cecilia Monti. Film Editing by Walter Murch.
Francis Ford Coppola seeks to reclaim his lost glory with this overreaching art film about familial melodrama in Buenos Aires. Benny (Alden Ehrenreich) is a teenager who gets off the ship that he has been working on as a waiter to seek out his long-lost older brother Angelo (Vincent Gallo) in the Argentinean capital. Angelo, who now calls himself Tetro, is unreasonable and unkind, scribbling madly away in his apartment while his live-in girlfriend (Maribel Verdú) apologizes to Benny for his inhospitable behaviour. As time progresses, Benny investigates family secrets, none of which are interesting, and delves into Tetro’s writing; after augmenting Gallo’s work into a play, Benny enters an arts festival run by a mysterious critic (Carmen Maura) and enrages his brother, the conflict of which sets in motion the healing finale. The film has a lot going for it, including gorgeous black and white photography, a magnificent musical score (punctuated by lots of lovely tango) and terrific casting (Maura is delightful behind her sunglasses), but Coppola overindulges himself in artistic flourishes that go nowhere. Tetro is far too unreachable for too long, his denouement in the film’s climax all the more dishonest as a result, and while you want to enjoy it for Ehrenreich’s warm performance as Benny, there’s no denying that this film is a rambling mess of nonsense.